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Definition: Obliged or expected to account for

Your child can show responsibility by:

  • Getting up, getting dressed, and eating breakfast by the time to leave for school.
  • Helping with household chores without reminders.
  • Doing homework on time and keeping school work in order.
  • Taking care of his or her own laundry.
  • Beginning a savings account and putting a little money into it each week or month.

Questions to discuss together:

  • What are the responsibilities each of us has in our family?
  • What are your specific responsibilities, both at home and at school?
  • What are your responsibilities for lessons you take, sports you are involved in, or extracurricular activities?
  • When someone is acting irresponsibly, how does it affect us? (For example: What is the effect of not being waited on in a store because the employee is on the phone?) How does it make you feel when someone you are counting on is not responsible?
  • What are ways we can be responsible for our health? (Discuss nutrition, exercise, and wellness in this context.)

Projects to do together:

  • Help your child get his or her notebooks organized for the school year.
  • Agree on bedtimes and wake-up times.
  • Discuss food needed for feeling good and being ready to study.
  • Take your son or daughter grocery shopping. Assist them with the responsibility for one week of making the grocery choices and handling the grocery money.
  • Read Every Kid’s Guide to Family Rules and Responsibilities, by Joy W. Berry.

Encouraging respect in your child:

  • Remind your child to be responsible for each class by writing assignments in the class planner.
  • Check your child’s notebook each day for a few days or weeks. Be patient as he or she learns responsibility, and praise good efforts.
  • Watch for ways your child is being responsible. Give positive feedback and appreciation when you see responsible actions.
  • Share examples of how you or someone you know was responsible today.
  • If your child forgets to be responsible, encourage a fresh start.

Excerpt from Teaching Character: A Parent’s Guide by Anne C. Dotson and Karen D. Wisont. - Available from the National Center for Youth Issues or from the Character Development Group.


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